Last week we covered the difficult topic of slavery as a precursor for this week's lesson on racism. In the US you can't deny that racism is an issue that has once again come to the forefront of media. Today Pastor Doss takes a look at it from a Biblical perspective, addressing those on all sides of the issue. Listen at the link below.
As a nation, we have come a long way in racism over the years, showing immense improvements in acceptance of interracial marriages, interracial neighborhoods, interracial schools, and other area of our culture. But to say that, in the recent past we have not seen a surge in racial tensions across the nation would be to put on blinders. You can argue whether this surge represents a change of attitude in the population, or a revealing of suppressed attitudes which are now surfacing more openly, or a media that has magnified tensions through a disproportionate focus on chosen stories; but the shift in attitude is real. (CNN report) Much of the racism in this country has at least one root deeply embedded in the dark pages of this Country's slavery years, where millions of African-Americans were taken from their homes and families, and sold as slaves in this Nation. How this influences prejudice and racism we will discuss later, but I want to start with one extremely important point for everyone here first: Both sides of the American Civil War proclaimed that God was on their side; both had large numbers of professing Christians, and though the War was about so much more than slavery, each side justified their stance on slavery, even in their faith. Before addressing racism, we must address the truth of this terrible accusation first. At this very moment in time, there are more people living in slavery than ever in history (over 29 million people who are victim to slavery in human trafficking for sex, forced labor and other reasons) Would you seriously follow a god that was OK with these atrocities? Are you ok with others accusing our God of approving of, and commanding these behaviors?
Racism is a hot topic in this country today. For many it has roots in the past era of slavery. Today Pastor Doss introduces a series that addresses racism by beginning in the past.
In the US slavery was a divisive issue that was a contributing factor in our civil war. Both sides claimed that God was on their side and that scripture supported their stance. After all, slavery was throughout the Bible. We now the outcome of the war, but many are still unclear on God's view of slavery. Listen to this week's lesson as Pastor Doss digs into the Word to discover what God has to say about it.
Do you realize there are Christians around the world that fear to meet? That their lives, families and livelihoods are risked each time they worship Jesus? Yet, they are closer to Him than many of us. We pray for their persecution and safety; they pray for our persecution of prosperity. “…Western Christians often put so much faith in their prosperity and political freedoms that they don't know what it's like to have to depend completely on God. And because of that, they often do not get to know Him in all the ways He invites us to." We understandably feel they need prayer because they are hiding, socially and financially suffering, imprisoned, separated from families, tortured and murdered; and we often wonder if we could sustain our walk in similar times. Our answer to that question may be right here in front of us now; the North Koreans wisely called our current condition, "Persecution of prosperity"—and they are very accurate, because these, "persecutions" that we are facing, have more of us turning from God, or walking in uncommitted ways, than the persecutions they are facing in the most dangerous country in the world. How do we think we will suffer faithfully for Christ when the times comes to be persecuted like them when we cannot handle prosperity now?
Pastor Doss shared a hilarious story from his Bahamas vacation where one of his flip-flops broke, inhibiting his ability to get back to his hotel room without difficulty and pain. But, did he consider that because if it was going to be painful that he shouldn’t go, or wasn’t supposed to go? No! How could something as necessary and unarguable as returning to my motel room be questioned because it was now going to be hard or painful?... How much more powerful and important, is following God than making it back to a motel room on the hot summer pavement? How much more powerful and important, is serving God and His people where He would have you to serve? Then why do so many people who claim they are Blood-bought, sold-out, children of the King, who claim they are here to live for and serve Christ—start so strong, but never finish, begin with such dedication, but fizzle or turn, all because things become a bit uncomfortable or difficult? It would have been ludicrous for him to decide not to go back to the motel because he didn't have a flip-flop, and he didn't want to take the pain of the walk. But, do you know what is even more ludicrous? To decide not to go on with God or His eternal calling, because the walk gets a little painful or difficult; to not believe that He will make a way, as long as we keep walking.
Nothing to Lose!
Across the globe are Christians meeting in secret to learn about and worship God. Each faces persecution, ostracization, even death should they be discovered. And yet many of them are praying for us! Today Pastor Doss shares one of their prayers with us and discusses how our American lifestyle may be hindering not only our relationship with God, but our response to His calling as well.
How Bad do You Want It?
Pastor Doss makes an impassioned plea to his brothers and sisters in Christ - don't quit! You have to keep fighting the good fight, keep moving in the direction you have been called to, especially when it gets hard. Pastor Doss examines the life of Jacob and the experiences of Paul to help us learn how to keep on keeping on.
What a wonderful, heartfelt, humble message from Elder Don Kinser Sunday morning. I absolutely love Doug’s sermons that preach to and teach us. He is so dedicated in his studies and research for his presentation to us. But I also love when a guest speaker comes in and just speaks from his heart. Sometimes, it’s these moments that we learn the most.
As many of you know Don and his family have been through a lot over the years; but this past year brought them the unspeakable pain through the death of their son Joshua. And through this pain, when most would question God’s existence, His love, and their faith, that Don was taught an invaluable lesson. He was gracious enough to share his experience. I pray everyone reading this takes a moment 1) to pray for the Kinser family—they still need encouragement and love from us 2) to reflect on the life lessons God has taught you in your difficult times. There is a lesson—to be able to see it, understand and appreciate it is when you truly have the relationship with Jesus that we should all long for. My prayers are for each of you through this reflection; and my continued prayers for the Kinser family.
“What God’s Teaching Me”
2 Corinthians 3:1-3: We can read and quote the Bible but the only epistle that matters is the one we have; the one in us. People see Who God is through us and our actions.
The major lessons Don learned through the loss of his son Joshua are how much God actually loves each of us; He knows what will happen and He works in it all. [We typically can’t comprehend this until we’ve been through a difficult season and come through it with God’s help. But to be able to see and feel God in the midst of the storm—when the pain is the greatest—is a treasure.]
When Josh died, it was following the biggest snow storm of the year. The next day their family got together to celebrate their daughter Laney’s birthday. As like many of our families, to get everyone together for an event is difficult (we’re all so busy anymore). But, all of the kids came together, despite travel restrictions, etc. And thanks to travel restrictions, Josh stayed whole weekend with them. “All the grace of God- God knew what was coming”—He gave them that time together; one last time as a family. There is no coincidence; there is only Providence! He gave them what they needed to get them through.
God knows what's coming and He's there to care for you through it. God knew their needs. Financially speaking, the family didn’t have the necessary funds to provide for burial expenses. [Can you imagine, not only having to bury your son, but being told that there would be no burial because you can’t afford it!?!] Within a week, everything was completely paid for. “God's in control; He knows what you need, He knows when it's needed and He provides.”
Through his personal grief, Don had one of the closest experiences he’s ever had with God—sweet time, comfort, strength and words to comfort others. Despite the insanity surrounding them—God had complete control. Don now has more reliance on God—still worries, but has more peace—knowing that at end, it'll all be okay.
The biggest lesson Don learned though, was how to be head of house. Even though he had the lessons under him (Doug’s taught this on multiple occasions), it doesn't mean as much and you don't truly learn it until God teaches you directly. One of the hardest things he has ever had to do was having to step up over his own grief and help his family get through. “God’s strength will get you through your weakest point.” Ephesians 5:22-33—when you have to actually live these verses they should actually scare the men. If you're truly the head of your house, you should be caring for and encouraging your wife—in life and in prayer—even if you’re sacrificing your own grief, pain, and time. That's what Christ did; He set aside everything for the Church—being God, His life on Earth, His desires—all for the Church! (ex.1: Matthew 14: Jesus wanted to leave when His friend John The Baptist was killed. He was emotionally, physically spiritually exhausted. He wanted to go away but the people He loved so much were still there, so He stayed to minister to them.) The husband’s wants are to get set aside and you love your wife like Christ loved the Church. (ex.2: Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46: Jesus sacrificed in Garden of Gethsemane. He didn't want to face what He was about to go through—“Father YOUR will”—He sweated blood) Husbands- put your wishes aside to the point that you sweat blood so you can minister to your family. Jesus didn't want to do it- but He still did it. So must you. 1 Corinthians 13:4-9: If you want to make sure you've got the definition of God’s love—Chapter 13—put your name where 'love' is. Where are you failing? “If you're not living in this love, you're not living as Christ did for his Church.”
God uses all things—good and bad—as a lesson for us to learn. (Romans 8:28) We’ve got to be open to hearing and seeing it. Often when we're following Him, we can see things in ourselves and others that we never would've noticed before.
God is there; God is gracious. He will provide what we need when we need it. Hang in there—and share some sweet time with Jesus.
We all have stories in our epistle to share with others to minister to them. What’s your story?
Don Kinser, elder at Word of Light Community Church, believes that everything happens for a purpose. Today he shares with us why he believes this, and some personal examples in his own life. Perhaps God is using your situations to shape, mold, and teach you as well...
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